top of page

10 words for book lovers


Here are ten unusual words that all book lovers should know. I especially like numbers 1 and 10.

1. tsundoku

Tsundoku is a Japanese word that has no direct synonym in English. It means, ‘the act of leaving a book unread after buying it, typically piling it up together with other such unread books.’ This may be similar to being buried under a pile of unread books, which is every book lover’s reality.

2. colophon

A colophon is the easiest way to recognize a publisher because it is a publisher’s emblem or imprint that can often be found on the title page or on the spine of a book. When a reader starts noticing the same colophon on all their favorite books they may realize this publisher appeals to their reading preferences and may follow future publications.

3. libricide

Although rarely used today, libricide—the ‘killing’ of a book—is the last thing any book lover wants to hear about. In the same vain, biblioclasm can make any book lover’s heart stop because it is the intentional destruction of books, or specifically of the Bible.

4. bibliotaph

Many readers identify as bibliotaphs, or people who bury their books by keeping them under lock and key. Bibliotaphs are often readers who hoard their books and protect them from others. Such habits may come from bibliolatry, or the extravagant admiration of a book, making readers want to protect their stories.

In all seriousness, books have to be protected from biblioklepts, even those who steal books unintentionally by forgetting to return them, because we just can’t have that.

5. princeps

The first edition or printing of a book is known as the princeps. Some princeps are worth a great deal both financially and emotionally; a recent example is the Harry Potter series.Serious book collectors may seek out incunabula, or early printed books (those prior to the year 1501), instead of concerning themselves with modern princeps.

6. bibliognost

This term refers to someone who knows books and bibliography. Taken from the root word biblio- combined with the Greek γνώστης,‘one who knows’, a bibliognost knows the minutiae of every page. This is one serious book lover!

7. hamartia

Perhaps one of the most gut-wrenching moments in a reading experience is a beloved character’s downfall. Hamartia refers specifically to a fatal flaw that leads to the downfall of a tragic hero or heroine. Hamartia is dominantly used in Aristotle’s Poetics to describe the destruction of heroes due to ignorance.

Some instances of hamartia are so serious that readers may engage in finifugal, which is shunning the end (of anything). Conveniently forgetting the ending of a book that dissatisfied you is a reader’s main coping mechanism when disappointed.

8. librocubicultarist

Librocubicultarist hasn’t made its way into Oxford Dictionaries just yet, but it’s a common piece of slang in literary circles used to describe people who read in bed. This word is a product of the Latin liber ‘book’ and cubiculum ‘sleeping chamber’.

9. fascicle

A fascicle is a part or a number in a work published in installments. Notably, the OED was published in fascicles over the course of several decades. Today, this word is synonymous with describing a volume, or one of a number of books forming a related set or series.

10. scripturient

Although this word is rarely used today, it describes something any book lover is familiar with: an author. A scripturient is simply someone who has a passion for writing. In other words, this is a book lover’s favorite kind of person. And even more interestingly, scripturients tend to get their work done in scriptoriums, also known as a room set apart for writing (often found in monasteries where manuscripts were copied). Way cooler than a personal office!

Featured Posts
Follow Me
  • Facebook Classic
  • Twitter Classic
bottom of page